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The Evolution of El Capitan

How El Capitan Came to Be, and the Original Gauchos Contribution to It

By: Hannah Sanchez


El Capitan first opened its doors in 1959, but later closed in 1963. Due to the efforts of previous alumni, it is the school we know and love today.

Few people can attest to the growth the school has gone through better than Mike Bik. Mike attended El Capitan High from 1960 to 1962. After he graduated, the school (which used to be a rebranded portion of Merced High) was closed down. Bik, a lover of the school through and through, made it his goal to reopen the school. With a presentation in tow, Mike argued his case to the school board. He introduced his idea: the next school should be called El Capitan. It should have the original colors and the same mascot. Unfortunately, the next school was not called El Capitan, but Golden Valley. Since Golden Valley didn’t fulfill his vision, Mike didn’t give up and soon El Capitan High School was opened. The mascot (our mighty gaucho) was kept the same, but our colors were given a splash of gold.

When asked if he would become a gaucho again at the current campus if, given the chance, Mike answer was, “Oh absolutely I would. I grew up in Merced and attended El Capitan when it was first made. This school had a lot of expectations for it when it reopened, and it has far exceeded them. I turn 75 [on April 16th] and I would turn the clock back in a heartbeat.” El Capitan continues to meet the standards of excellence presented in the original high school years ago and gives the alumni of the original pride in representing its continued legacy.


ECHS Alma Matter